2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40

Test-driving the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin left us pleasantly surprised

Volvo, like other manufacturers, is hard at work electrifying its entire lineup. While Polestar (Volvo’s ex-tuner) is considered to be the EV arm of the Swedish brand, Volvo is churning out fully-electric versions of its own models. The first Volvo-badged EV is the XC40 Recharge, which is still being sold with a variety of internal-combustion engines. However, its sportier sibling, the Volvo C40 Recharge is the brand’s first EV-only model, and we recently got a chance to spend some time with the twin-motor variant.

Volvo C40 Recharge Performance and Capability

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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Like the Volvo XC40, the C40 Recharge is underpinned by the CMA platform. The same platform is the basis for the Polestar 2 and the Chinese-made Lynk & Co 01. While the base version of the C40 has a single electric motor powering the front wheels and a 69-kWh battery, we had the top-of-the-line Volvo C40 Recharge Twin. As the name suggests, it has two electric motors (one per axle), which combined make 408 horsepower (304 kilowatts) and 487 pound-feet (660 Nm). This is enough for a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint in 4.7 seconds, on to an electronically-limited top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h).

In the Twin-motor variant, the 78-kWh battery provides a range of 261 miles (420 km). Volvo claims an average energy consumption of 33.3 kWh/ 100 miles (20.7 kWh/100 km), but to our surprise, we managed 27.3 kWh/100 miles (17 kWh/100 km) with steady driving and an average speed of 56 mph (90 km/h). With 150kW DC charging, the C40 Recharge is able to gain 80 percent of battery charge in 40 minutes. Moreover, thanks to a test carried out by Bjørn Nyland, we know that the Volvo C40 Recharge Twin is the Swedish carmaker’s most efficient EV.

Volvo C40 Recharge specifications
Powertrain two electric motors - front and rear
Power 408 HP
Torque 487 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 4.7 seconds
Top speed 112 mph
Battery 78-kWh
Range 261 miles

Exterior Design

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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While it may look like it at first glance, the C40 Recharge is more than a coupe version of the XC40 Recharge. In the front, C40 Recharge has a different headlight design with an upwards kink towards the blanked-off grille. The “grille” itself is slightly different too, being better integrated into the rest of the fascia. Of course, the biggest difference can be seen on the side and rear of the car where, instead of the XC40’s angular, two-box design, we have a fastback rear end that gives the CUV a much sportier look.

Dimension-wise, the C40 Recharge is almost identical to the XC40 Recharge although the latter is slightly longer 174.8 inches (4,440 mm) versus the C40’s 174.45 inches (4,431 mm). Looking at the XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge, side by side, the latter is noticeably lower at 62.28 inches (1,582 mm) versus 64.84 inches (1,647 mm). To no surprise, both CUVs share an identical wheelbase of 106.38 inches (2,702 mm).

Volvo C40 Recharge exterior dimensions
Length 174.8 inches (4,440 mm)
Height 62.28 inches (1,582 mm)
Wheelbase 106.38 inches (2,702 mm)

Interior Quality and Technology

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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When it comes to Volvo’s current lineup, they boast some of the best interiors for the price range. The C40 Recharge is no exception even though Volvo’s emphasis on sustainability means the interior is made entirely of recycled materials. Our C40 Recharge Twin had the Ultimate trim and featured naturally renewable wool fibers. The other option is a combination of suede textile and micro-tech material. The only place where we found cheap, easy-to-scratch plastics were the trim pieces around the inner door handles. Aside from that, we liked the ergonomics and execution of the interior.

The 12.3-inch digital driver display features a pleasant design, easy on the eyes, and the Android-based infotainment system with its nine-inch touchscreen is easy to navigate through and way more responsive than older versions. The only thing we didn’t like is that you have to touch the screen more than once for many of the functions like adjusting the climate control - the drawback of having too much digitalization and not enough physical buttons.

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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The interior space has been designed in an optimal way, just like in the XC40. There’s ample room for four passengers, but because of the sloping roof, headroom for second-row passengers is not as generous as in the XC40. We found that passengers over six feet 2 inches struggle for space. In terms of cargo capacity, the C40 Recharge is almost as practical as its boxy counterpart, the XC40. Minimum luggage space is 14.6 cubic feet (411 liters), but goes up to 42.55 cubic feet (1,205 liters) once you fold down the rear seats. The cargo area is quite flexible and offers a clever shelf system, allowing for different configurations. There’s also a "frunk", which provides 1.1 cubic feet (31 liters) of space, but it’s good for little more than the charging cables.

Volvo C40 Recharge Driving Impressions

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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In the Volvo C40 Recharge, you don’t have the usual Comfort, Sport, and Eco drive modes. Instead, you can adjust various settings like the weight of the steering wheel and the regenerative function. We found that, in its highest setting, we didn’t even need to touch the brake pedal in order to bring the car to a stop. The system is very sophisticated and works adequately on both the highway and in urban driving. Of course, that’s once you get used to gradually depressing the accelerator pedal as a means of braking, otherwise, braking happens a bit too sudden.

There are additional modes such as the adapted, low-speed Off-Road Mode for optimal traction on harsh terrains or steep hills. There is Range Assistant, which essentially, gives the driver pointers in order to squeeze maximum range out of the battery. What we were most impressed with, however, was the acceleration of the C40 Recharge Twin. Merging onto a highway is a breeze and once you floor it, you better hold on tight.

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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It is true that, with a curb weight of 4,817 pounds (2,185 kg), the Volvo C40 Recharge is heavy for its size, but just like any other EV, it’s all because of the battery pack placed in the floor of the car. That, typically, is responsible for about a quarter of an EV’s weight. Still, the all-electric CUV demonstrated surprisingly sporty behavior. The ride quality is a near-perfect blend of sport and comfort although a bit bumpy on the smaller imperfections. The suspension setting is a bit firmer than the XC40, but it’s still more supple than some of the other EVs out there. Overall, the Volvo C40 Recharge is sportier than you think, but don’t think for a second it can’t be the comfortable daily driver you want it to be.

How much does the Volvo C40 Recharge cost?

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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Prices for the twin-motor Volvo C40 Recharge Twin start at $58,750. Strangely enough, the XC40 Recharge starts at $53,990, which is almost $5,000 more. It is a noticeable difference compared to other markets and we chalk it down to SUV coupes being more popular in the U.S. than in other parts of the world such as Europe where the price difference between the two models is, on average, the equivalent of around $2,000.

The Verdict

2023 Volvo C40 Recharge Review: The Sportier Electric Alternative to the XC40
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At first glance, the Volvo C40 Recharge seems like a function-over-form type of vehicle, compared to its more traditional counterpart, the XC40 Recharge. With that being said, the only noticeable sacrifice is in the second-row headroom department, but that only matters for taller people (such as myself). The C40 Recharge can be described as a slightly more exciting version of the more traditional XC40 Recharge, with a sportier suspension setting and a sloping roofline. You still get the same pleasant interior and almost identical practicality in a slightly sportier package. Moreover, the C40 Recharge is slightly more efficient than the XC40 Recharge.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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